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Sole Bruises and Abscesses in the Hooves of Horses

The most common causes of lameness in horses are abscesses and bruises of the sole of the hoof. Bruises are easy to understand, they are caused by trauma. Rough ground, poorly fitting or overgrown shoes, and thin soles can cause bruising. Bruises usually come on quickly and cause low to moderate grades of lameness. Abscesses may also come on quickly or over a couple of days and the degree of lameness is much worse.

Close-up of an abscess exit hole on the sole.

Additional information

  • Gravel is an abscess that drains at the coronary band
  • Most abscesses occur between the stratum corneum and the basal layers of the stratum germinativum, but occasionally they may extend deep to the dermis.
  • Definition of bruises: Hemorrhage between dermis and stratum corneum
  • Definition of corns: bruises located in the angle between the bar and hoof wall
  • Small cracks in sole may admit bacteria to suppuration

    A hoofwall abscess about 3 months after erupting at coronet band.
  • Subclassification: Dry / Moist / Suppurative

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